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Thread: Rams regain their balance
Rams regain their balance
By Jim Thomas
Of the Post-Dispatch
SAN FRANCISCO - Coaches will try just about anything to motivate their teams. And in the days leading up to Sunday night's contest with San Francisco, Mike Martz told his squad he didn't think the ***** were very good.
"Yeah, and he was (saying things) like - 'And it's San Francisco, and it's personal,'" defensive tackle Damione Lewis said.
The Rams players apparently took the coach at his word. Offensively, they pounded the ***** on the ground, and in the air. Defensively, they harassed ***** quarterback Tim Rattay and kept running back Kevan Barlow bottled up most of the evening. The result was a much-needed 24-14 victory over rival San Francisco that evened the Rams' record at 2-2.
"This win is very important to us," Martz said. "It's a good feeling, because we came out here the last two years and were embarrassed."
The Rams lost 30-10 here a year ago and 37-13 here in 2002. But they dominated the ***** in the opening half, and really didn't let them back in the game in the second half - despite a couple of fourth-quarter touchdowns.
Eschewing the traditional pregame player introductions, the Rams came out on the field en masse, headed directly to midfield, and proceeded to stomp on the *****' helmet painted on the turf at Monster Park. It proved to be symbolic of what was to come.
By halftime, St. Louis had a 24-0 lead, had outgained the ***** 251 yards to 82, and had given NFC West-leading Seattle - next week's opponent - something to think about. Rediscovering the running game, the Rams had a 2-to-1 advantage in time of possession in the first half.
After seeing their NFL-record 420-game scoring streak end last week in a shutout loss to Seattle, the ***** didn't get on the scoreboard Sunday until early in the fourth quarter, with a touchdown before a missed 2-point conversion. But it was too little, way too late.
Isaac Bruce enjoyed his fourth consecutive 100-yard receiving game. Marshall Faulk enjoyed his second 100-yard rushing day of the season. The Rams are 26-0 when Faulk rushes for at least 100 yards.
Fast and furious became methodical and productive on the Rams' opening drive. After running the ball only 15 times in each of the two previous games, Martz called nine running plays on the series, with Faulk handling the first eight carries for 34 yards.
But the ninth carry went to - surprise! - fullback Joey Goodspeed. In his third season, Goodspeed made his first NFL carry a memorable one. On fourth and 1 from the San Francisco 2, he plowed up the middle for a touchdown.
The surprises continued on the next play from scrimmage. The Rams sent linebacker Tommy Polley on a blitz and he hit ***** quarterback Tim Rattay from behind just as Rattay was about to throw downfield. The ball squirted free and was recovered by defensive end Leonard Little.
For those unfamiliar with such plays - and Rams fans are this season - it's called a turnover. Yes, after going three games without one, the Rams finally produced their first takeaway of the season - after 193 minutes 22 seconds of clock time.
"It was a real relief," defensive end Leonard Little said. "It was great to get our first turnover, and our offense scoring points off it - that's even better."
St. Louis took over on the *****' 11. An illegal contact penalty against San Francisco cornerback Mike Rumph advanced the ball to the 6, and Marc Bulger then threw a perfectly placed pass to Shaun McDonald in the right corner of the end zone for a touchdown with 1:13 to play in the opening quarter. The Rams, who had scored only seven points in the first quarter all season, suddenly found themselves with a 14-0 lead.
Mixing the run with the pass to keep the ***** off balance, St. Louis tacked on a 20-yard field goal by Jeff Wilkins midway through the second quarter. The Rams re-gained possession on their first interception of the season, with Jerametrius Butler reaching up for a deep pass intended for Cedrick Wilson on the second play of the second quarter.
The Rams made it four scores in four possessions in the first half with a 91-yard drive that culminated in a 2-yard TD by rookie Steven Jackson. It was the first NFL touchdown for Jackson, the first running back taken in the draft last April. On a night of firsts, McDonald's TD also was his first in the NFL.
So by halftime, the Rams had more running plays (19) than passes (18), and Faulk had more rushing yards (66) than in the previous two games combined (64). Not that the passing game was dormant - far from it. Bulger had 15 completions in 18 attempts, for a 166 yards and a passer rating of 123.6.
Re: Rams regain their balanceOriginally Posted by Jim Thomas
Sorry, just had to see if Waller was still hanging around. :tongue:"Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod
Re: Rams regain their balance
"You must have balance, Waller-san."
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